From DevOps Dictionary

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Linting is the process of using a tool to examine computer program source code for common errors, without actually executing the program. The term is thought to originate from picking lint off your clothing to ensure that you are presentable.

Most linters are highly configurable and extensible, allowing you to select from a wide range of prepackaged rules to adapt to your coding standard, or invent your own rules as needed. Some linters continue beyond error detection into examining the code for stylistic concerns.

In a Continuous Integration toolchain, linting is performed very early, prior to running any unit tests. Often, a pre-commit hook will be added to the Version Control System to reject code that does not pass the linter.

Examples of Linters